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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Quick Hits on the 4th

  • I was starting to worry that I was becoming a prude, 'cause I was getting annoyed with the folks around my 'hood shooting off extremely loud (but largely invisible) fireworks till the wee hours of the morning and for about the past week. But I thought about it yesterday, and no, I'm not a prude. On the contrary, I love fireworks. I sat at Hollywood Beach last night w/my wife and friends and thoroughly enjoyed the show the city put on. What annoys me about the cats in my neighborhood shooting off the fireworks is none of these dudes are thinking about Independence Day or Freedom or any of that stuff. I'm not stupid. As with Christmas and the "reason for the season" none of us - unless we're running for office - spend all day on July 4th meditating about 1776, and the rockets red glare, and Uncle Sam needing us, etc. But these guys who get drunk and shoot their popper off so they sound right outside your window? They're just knuckleheads taking advantage of an excuse to make noise.
  • Gotta give it to the men and women on the space shuttle. After the disasters NASA has had in recent years, I'd have been scared to death to fly in one of those things. Weren't they built in the '60s? I know they've made upgrades, but even airlines are required to add new birds to their fleets every so often. Besides, if just upgrades are OK, how come my buddy's 1964 Corvair with the new/modern stereo and the new/modern upholstery, and the new/modern tires and rims, is sitting in his driveway with a tarp over it? I'll tell you why, 'cause that old bucket - while it may be nice to look at - is what they call in the hood a hardcore hoopty! But God bless the astronauts. I hope they make it back OK.
  • So I wrote yesterday about the U.S. flag meaning more to me as I get a little older and I briefly touched on the thought that there are different ways of respecting the flag, but sometimes efforts to respect go awry. Case in point, we're sitting on the beach last night waiting for the fireworks show to start, and we see a couple of guys up ahead wearing what look to be colorful capes. My eyes are terrible, but I'm too scared to try contacts and too busy and too vain to get my eyeglass prescription updated. So it took my wife pointing out that those capes were actually American flags. I squinted to get a better look, and sure enough both shirtless, too-short shorts wearing dudes had flags tied around their necks as they sat in the sand with the flags dragging the ground behind them. Not cool. If you can't keep the thing out of the dirt, take it off and hang it on a pole or the wall like everyone else.
  • Finally, speaking of the beach, what is it about festive atmospheres that bring out the triflin' in people? It's as if the full moon comes out during public holiday celebrations, and an invisible signal goes off and compels people to "act a fool," as my Grandma Rosa would say. As we strolled the Broadwalk (if you don't live in South Florida, you wouldn't know this, but "Broadwalk" isn't a misspelling; apparently that's just what the city of Hollywood, FL calls it's beach boardwalk.) looking for a good spot in the sand to settle in, a group of teenage boys - I'd say all were ages 15 to 17 - walked through the crowd loudly calling out "Where are all the fine b--ches at?" They were yelling like they were the town criers, and really proud of themselves. The worst part is there were teenage girls responding to the shout outs like they were being given prizes. Also, in about five minutes time I saw three incidents of mean-mugging (hard, menacing stares) between strangers that led to near fist fights that had to be broken up. People are nuts.


  • You are getting old, champ. Hollywood socks...sandals...fanny pack...three-wheeler with a flag. Hollywood Beach 4th (I was there, too) had a couple of things wrong with it-1) Everyone could see the fireworks from Ft. Liquordale Beach and just knew they were better and longer; 2)the live symphony orchestra shut down 10 minutes into the fireworks only to be replaced by Bruce Springsteen. And their last cut was "Marseilles"--the French national anthem. Talk about getting gut shot.
    But, on the bright side, while you were making note of the knucklehedz on the beach (especially at Bu's--that place must be a mullet-n-meathead magnet), you missed the grand opening of Hollywood Beach Pita complete w/ outdoor hookahs and the indoor belly dancer (who was a hot mix of Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz). Plus, the mood on Hollyweird Beach is more laid back than Ft. Likka or Sobe Mihammy. I call it the "come-as-you-are" section of S. Florida. Not enough dough to be too prententious and just enough sleaze to make it interesting. The fights you saw about to begin broke up just as quickly. Think about how that might have turned out either up the road or down it.

    As for the flag thing, you're a journalist--a defender of the 1st Amendment. Your chosen profession should make you immune to perceived flag desecration. The flag is a symbol of an idea that is there for any use an American sees fit--every citizen has a right to it and no own owns it exclusively. Using it as a cape is perfectly proper, as would be using it as toilet paper. Don't get caught thinking the flag is more than some linen stitched together. The ideas are what matter and you should know this better than anyone.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 5:34 PM  

  • BD, only you can make me out to be an old fogey who has lost his objectivity.

    I'm plenty objective. However, I am also human. And any journalist who says he feels nothing about anything is a liar. While we're supposed to be objective, we're also supposed to draw on our own experiences and real life "expertise" to help gage common sense.

    That being said, there was no breach of journalism in me saying the sight of two fatheads wearing flags for capes and letting them drag on the ground bother me.

    I'm human. It was my opinion. And my opinion on what I see is what this blog is all about.

    That's OK, boss. You'll never get me to acknowledge old fogeyism. It does not exist with me yet. I'll let you know the day I start wearing socks with my sandles and my shorts way above my waistline.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 6:52 PM  

  • One more thing B.D., I'm not sure if we saw the same near fight(s) on the Broadwalk. Chances are at least one was the same incident. But let's say we did see the same incident. Let me play Devil's advocate. Are you suggesting that because the scuffle was broken up quickly it was OK that it happened in the first place? See, I'm not criticizing the after-the-fact reaction. Kudos and rah rah to whoever broke those guys up. But the fact the fight was stopped quickly doesn't change the fact that there is a problem in some young dude's mentalities when they're ready to get violent 'cause someone looked at 'em funny. Call me an old fogey if you want. But you know like I do that we can't keep excusing stupid behavior, like stupid fights for stupid things like tough looks, and blaming it on youth. As far as the other stuff, I couldn't hear the orchestra from where I was anyway.

    And as for my flag opinion, well take this analogy: I happen to subscribe to a particular religion, but I challenge you and anyone else to read a story I've written on religion and tell me how I feel about it one way or another.

    No offense, my friend. But we all have areas of expertise. Mine is reporting the news. And if I can't be objective in my reporting I'd need to get out of the biz. But having objectivity doesn't mean not having opinions. It means keeping those opinions out of your news reporting.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:32 PM  

  • You are so not a prude. Do you have idiots shooting guns off into the air just to hear the big bang like we did on the 4th in our old Miami 'hood?

    For the record... the fireworks are just as loud in NYC. And the neighbors get just as drunk. On those counts the cities are dead even. :)

    By Blogger Melissa, at 12:30 AM  

  • JB, I hear you, papi. You know I like to throw salt in the buttermilk, so I'm gonna keep ribbin' you about the old man stuff. I grew up in a town where there were Q-Tips as far as the road would go. The problem is if you grow up too much in Florida, you start sounding like one of those "This isn't how we did things up north, blah, blah, blahs". I'm not gonna take my flag stance any further except to say it could have been worse--they could have been bumpin' uglies under those flags. As for the fight, I know you would like for the young-'uns and grown folks to act like they got soome sense. I'm just saying beer, sun, Fourth of July and close proximity still only led to screw-facing and a minor scuffle. Nobody got shot, stabbed or knuckled down. No chirren's had to flee screamin' "They shootin'!!!". In my Florida memory, that counts as a good day. I guess I'm a glass half-full kind of guy.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 1:44 PM  

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